Facebook urged to act after memorial sites defaced

Thu Feb 25, 2010 4:55am EST
 
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By Belinda Goldsmith

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Cyber attacks on Facebook pages set up to pay tribute to two murdered Australian children has prompted calls for the social networking site to be more accountable for its users.

Social media experts say it is natural that people who use sites such as Facebook or MySpace as a major form of communication should turn to these sites with personal tragedies.

These memorial sites often attract thousands of friends and well-wishers, as in the case of the pages set up after the deaths this month of Elliott Fletcher, 12, and Trinity Bates, 8.

Students from Brisbane College in the state of Queensland flocked to a memorial site set up after Fletcher was stabbed in a schoolyard fight two weeks ago, but it was defaced with offensive comments and images including child pornography and bestiality.

The same happened to a site set up in memory of Bates who was taken from her bed in Bundaberg, Queensland, with her body found in a nearby storm drain on Monday. A teenager accused of her murder was also revealed to be a Facebook friend of her parents.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has appealed to the owners of U.S.-based Facebook to find ways to stop a recurrence of these types of "sickening incidents."

"To have these things happen to Facebook pages set up for the sole purpose of helping these communities pay tribute to young lives lost in the most horrible ways adds to the grief already being experienced," Bligh wrote in a letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg which was released to the media.

"I seek your advice about whether Facebook can do anything to prevent a recurrence of these types of sickening incidents."   Continued...